On Monday, Meta sued a company called SocialData, which provides account metrics and other social media analytics data to its users.
Specifically, SocialData provided information about Instagram accounts, including username, follower and like count, post count, verification status, and demographic analysis of the account’s audience.
Meta alleges SocialData used thousands of automated bot IG accounts to collect and aggregate (i.e., scrape) the data and sold that data in the form of “Audience Data” reports.
What’s the problem?
Meta also asserts a claim for violation of California’s Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act (the CDAFA), which is California’s version of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
The relevant part of the CDAFA makes it unlawful to “knowingly access and without permission … make use of any data from a … computer system.”
Here, Meta says it sent SocialData a cease and desist letter explaining the violations and demanding that Social Data stop.
But SocialData responded saying it believed scraping data was “a fundamental right” and continued the alleged operations.
So, Meta says, SocialData knew it was accessing the IG computer system without permission, in violation of the CDAFA.
You might be wondering, “what about that LinkedIn decision that said scraping data is legal?”
SocialData said the same thing in response to the cease and desist letter.
It’s true that in hiQ Labs v. LinkedIn, the Ninth Circuit ruled that automated scraping of publicly accessible data probably does not violate the federal version of CDAFA.
But the U.S. Supreme Court “vacated” that ruling (meaning it has no effect) earlier this year, so it’s back before the Ninth Circuit for further review.
Meta’s pending lawsuits against SocialData and other analytics services (like BrandTotal) likely explain why services like IGBlade vanished in recent months.